Moltmann on History as Revelation
I've ben thoroughly enjoying my very slow read through Theology of Hope by Jurgen Moltmann. Perhaps only a theology nerd like me would say this, but reading Moltmann is like breathing fresh air in high elevation--it's not easy but it's so refreshing. He writes,
"Since, however, each individual event, taken as an act of God, only partially illumines the nature of God, revelation in the sense of the full self-revelation of God in his glory can be possible only where the whole of history is understood as revelation. History as a whole is thus revelation of God. Since it is not yet finished, it is only in light of its end that it is recognizable as revelation" (page 77).And
"This eschatology acquires its eschatological character only from the fact that reality cannot yet be contemplated as a whole because it has not yet come to an end. With this, however, the God of promise threatens to become...whose epiphany will be represented by the totality of reality in its completed form. The world will one day be theophany, indirect self-revelation of God in toto" (page 79).And then he goes on to explain Jesus Christ, specifically the risen Christ, as the full revelation of history, the totality of reality visiting history in process.
"It is not merely said that Jesus is the first to arise and that believers will attain like him to resurrection, but it is proclaimed that he is himself the resurrection and the life and that consequently believers find their future in him and not merely like him. Hence, they wait for their future by waiting for his future" (page 82-83).
"The appearances of the risen Lord were recognized as the promise and anticipation of a really outstanding future. Because in these appearances a process was manifestly perceptible, they provoked testimony and mission. The future of the risen Lord is accordingly here present in promise" (page 87).
I have to apologize, first of all, for the density of Moltmann's quotes here, if you find them difficult to understand. I suppose, to simplify what should not necessarily be simplified, Moltmann is suggesting the risen Christ as the disclosure of an undisclosed reality. Because history is not finished yet, we cannot examine it as a whole, but Jesus Christ, in his resurrection and victory over death, infiltrates the present with the foretaste of a future promise. The future, in essence, visits the present on Easter Sunday. Reading Moltmann was definitely very helpful in my Easter reflection this year.
N.T. Wright's book, After You Believe (another of my current reads), hints at this truth as well when Wright speaks of the role of virtue in Christian discipleship. The "goal" of Christian virtue and spiritual practice, unlike it's secular counterpart, resides in Christ himself and specifically in his Kingdom which, though presently apprehendable, persists as a future reality. In other words, our work and life as followers of Jesus are fixed in Jesus Christ's future kingdom present in our world here and now, making our strivings worthwhile. 1 Corinthians 15's epic closing statement brings the point home as Paul proclaims "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).
The story is not over yet but the end is Jesus. The last word has not been spoken yet but it will be a word of resurrection and vindication.